Prior to 2007, mobile phone design was about form and function packed into a small device that fit nicely in the hand. Walking through the mobile device display room, choices were based on price points, capabilities, brand and style. The only way to customize the look of the phone was to buy a separate decorative phone case. The case not only protected the phone, if dropped, but also expressed individuality by choice of colors and decorations.
Imagine walking through a mobile device display room and being dazzled by the colorful, decorative and tactile design choices built into the surface of the mobile phone. A mobile phone paint coating that changes colors? A leather-bound, suede or some other fabric mobile phone? A laser-etched wood mobile phone? What if you were told you could bring in your favorite photo or image and have it imprinted into the mobile phone in 3D? A one-of-a-kind mobile phone tailored to your individual style with all the high tech bells and whistles you desire.
Jabil Materials Technology engineers in Taiwan have developed new flexible manufacturing techniques that incorporate digital printing and forming making customized mobile phone design a reality. Digital printing is the reproduction of digital images on a mobile device surface. The surface might be glass, plastic, wood, leather or fabric. New lamination processes provide stronger bonding than glue. New surfaces, like wood, can be etched with lasers to create a decorative design and new coating techniques protect the wood from humidity and chemical corrosion.
These new surfaces are durable, easy to clean and scratch resistant. The new lamination and molding processes help to keep dust, air, moisture and chemicals out of the mobile phone making it less prone to having usability issues.
In just 30 years, mobile phone design has gone from big and clunky to small and capable, incorporating a multitude of technologies. The capabilities of these devices allow us to watch movies, make movies, take pictures and post them to social media channels, play games, listen to tunes and carry our office with us. Mobile phones are our companions. They are capable, flexible and now they can also be uniquely designed to fit our personal style and preference.
What’s next? Where do you see mobile phone technology and capabilities in five years?